Monday, March 30, 2015

Semana Santa

Wow. All you can eat buffets as a missionary are fantastic. Especially when you are almost out of food in your flat and you don´t have much money left for the month to buy some more. Our branch mission leader is fantastic. He took Elder Holman and I up to a castle and then afterwards to an all you can eat buffet. Oh my. It´s been a good pday. 

So I don´t even know where to begin. This last week has been awesome, awesome, awesome. Also, I don´t know if I have ever been so tired in my life. We get home some nights and I feel like I am just about to collapse. But it´s fantastic. I can´t believe I have been in La Linea for over two months. We were eating at a member´s house yesterday, and they asked us how long we have been serving our missions. Elder Holman said a couple of weeks, and I said about six months. One of the members eating with us turned to me and said, ¨No, Elder Weenig, you had six months when you GOT here. You´ve been here a while.¨ Geez. Time goes by way, way too fast. I really don´t like the fact that my second transfer in La Línea is almost over. It makes me feel sick.

So, miracle! We recovered Pepe!! We decided to not visit him for a little bit and then to return back and see if he had noticed the difference. He had. He was really welcoming, and when we read through a part of the Book of Mormon with him, he thought for a second, and started to explain how he felt about baptism, that he didn´t feel right, but we challenged him again to be baptized in a month, and he accepted. We are praying so, so hard that it works this time. We were worried that it might have been the last time we were going to meet with him for a while, and he accepted and God really has blessed us so much.

Here in La Línea is very different from all other areas. It´s different. We find all of our investigators through contacting and through door knocking. It´s not the best way to find, but we work with what we have. We have been meeting a lot of new people and having a lot of cool opportunities to talk with others and to share the gospel in literally every situation. It´s fun to go walk through Gibraltar and contact someone. When they start to walk away saying ¨Solo hablo español¨ (I only speak Spanish), we immediately switch tactics and watch the look of surprise on their face. 

Unfortunately, we haven´t been able to meet with Antonio, our investigator. We´re praying for him, and hoping that we can come back into contact with him. 

This last week we were really blessed to find some new investigators. Cool story. We contacted a guy on the street who told us we could pass by and he gave us his address. When we went by, it was a fake name to the address, but the house was real. There was a woman in the house, and because she was alone, we couldn´t teach her. She told us to come back later when her husband was home. We came back, and the woman wasn´t there anymore, but her husband was. He told us that he really wanted to talk with us, and that we should come back tomorrow. We left, came back the next day, and there he was, Miguel. He is a great guy. During our lesson with him, we were talking about the church. He told us he used to belong to a different church, but had later seen things in the church that he did not like, and that made him leave. He told us that he was searching for something. Something that would be a church for him. AH! Perfect!! We started talking to him about baptism but he didn´t seem sure, so that will be our long term goal.

Ana Florín. So I´ve already talked a little bit about her. She is one of the nicest ladies on the earth. We give her the sacrament every Sunday. Unfortunately, she lives alone, and as missionaries, we cannot teach single women in their houses. When we went by her house the other night, we stopped in the doorway, because we couldn´t enter. Usually, we would just bring a member to these appointments, but as La Línea is new, there are not many members available to accompany us to many of our appointments. So, instead of just us going away, she pulls out two chairs, and sets up a miniature table in her doorway, then pulls up a chair, and then we grab a couple of chairs that were just outside. she tells us, "If you can´t come in, there is a solution to everything. We eat in the doorway¨. We literally had dinner that night in her doorway. We apologized for the inconvenience but she just smiled. She told us that she was happy to help and that she was very happy to have elders visiting her. She is a saint. She really, really is. 

As far as culturally this week, Semana Santa (Holy Week - the week preceding Easter Sunday) is starting. If you have never seen pictures of it, go and look it up online. It is fascinating. It did give my companion and I a little bit of a scare while we were walking through the streets one evening. It was dark and as we turned around a corner, we saw a group of people walking through the streets carrying a big statue of the body of Christ. It was a little bit of a shock to say the least. But a cool cultural experience, we´re excited to see how it goes throughout the rest of the week.

I love you all so much! Thank you for all of the support that you give me, It means a lot. I love the Spanish language and I love the people, and the culture here is amazing. I´m so grateful for having the chance to be here. Especially, here in La Línea. It has it´s challenges. But it´s been a blessing to be able to work here.

After all, it´s a great day to be a missionary. 

Elder Weenig

Monday, March 23, 2015

La Linea

This past week has been quite the crazy week for weather in La Línea. At the beginning of the week, it was sunny, bright, and we all had this crazy notion that we were going to start having really, really nice weather. Our mistake. Wednesday the rains started, and a pair of just really unprepared missionaries had the misfortune of being caught in the far part of La Línea without umbrellas. We were soaked. The weather´s had it´s ups and downs. And so has the work this week.

Pepe. I love this guy. He is just fantastic. He´s travelled the world, and has a lot of stories. He loves to talk. LOVES to talk. If we can get a message in under 45 minutes, we consider it a miracle. We had set his baptism to be this coming Saturday. We had gotten permission and everything and it seemed like everything was going to go perfectly. We had even planned which beach we were going to do the baptism on  (there´s no fount here in La Línea). But our last lesson that we had with him, he told us that he did not want to get baptized. We talked with him about it, and asked him if he´d prayed and made sure that he knew the church was true. He told us that he had, but that he did not want to get baptized. It is hard. It´s very hard to have developed that love for someone, and then having it go away in just a few moments. You never can tell how much you love someone until they make the wrong choice. We left that lesson a little down, but as we were walking I had a thought that everything was going to be okay, and above all else, not to give up on Pepe. We won´t. Even if I have to toss him into the ocean myself, we won´t give up on him.

Reme. Is living evidence that the Lord has prepared people to receive his Gospel. At our last lesson with her, we explained the plan of salvation. When we finished she sat there and said, ´Wow. that makes sense. There isn´t just a heaven and hell, but three different places. Three different kingdoms.´ Then she looked at me and said ´But there´s another place isn´t there? A place outside of the three kingdoms?´ Well, she is inspired. Normally we don´t get into the doctrine of outer darkness with investigators, but we must respond to the needs of our investigators. Anyway, she loved the plan, and accepted it completely. We´re very excited for her. She found general conference on line on her own, and has been watching it. Such a miracle. Really, It is a pleasure to be able to teach her.

The last miracle that I will share is a man named Antonio. We contacted him on the street, and set up an appointment with him to go and teach a message about Christ. He accepted and we were in his home the next Saturday. During the lesson, the spirit got incredibly strong. Very strong, and we challenged him to be baptized. He accepted, and told us that he was willing to do whatever he needed to to be able to join our church. We are praying for him. Keep him in your prayers, he´s got a lot of faith, and has had a really hard time in life. The gospel is going to help him so much, and I know that we are going to be seeing miracles this coming week. 

I love you all so much. I love being a missionary. More than anything. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I am so grateful for it. It´s amazing. I love, love, love being a missionary.

It´s a great day to be a missionary!

Elder Weenig

Monday, March 16, 2015

First Week of Training

Wow. What a crazy week, but it´s been really fun. I really enjoy training. La Linea is getting warmer. We´re on a peninsula here and so we always get these crazy cross winds and a lot of just crazy, crazy humid cold. I´m glad we can go outside in short sleeves now. But his week. Where to begin?

I love how international this area is. We were at an eating appointment, while on splits, and we realized that each of us where from a different nationality. There were five of us an American, a Scot, an Englishman, an Argentine, and a Phillipino. Super cool. We´ve gotten to meet a lot of different nationalities here, because of how international a destination Gibraltar is.

La Línea continues to be great. We´ve worked so hard this last week. I used to love to talk with my companions after we´d go to bed. But the second we lie down we are out. It´s a good feeling. Elder Holman is great. He motivates me to be better. We´ve been able to see some great miracles.

Reme, continues to progress. She is reading the Book of Mormon and doing just amazingly. She´s promised to come to church this coming Sunday which is HUGE. The commitment to come to church from our area is not something to be taken lightly. The church is in Algeciras which is on the other side of the bay. It takes about an hour to get there in bus (slightly shorter if you have a car) and then an hour to get back. What an amazing commitment. The sacrifices of the members here blow me away. Blow me away. We have two members that come from Gibraltar to come to church (we ride with them on the bus every week) and coming over the border from there takes about an extra twenty minutes.  Even farther for Stake Conferences. We had a stake conference yesterday in Chiclana. Chiclana is about two and a half hours away by bus. The members are amazing. Really, I´ve learned so much from them.

Pepe. Our seventy two year old investigator. Is doing well. He is getting excited about baptism. He dropped coffee, tea, and tobacco the second we asked him. It was pretty miraculous. He didn´t question it. He asked us if it was the will of God for him in his life, and when we told him that it was, he immediately did what we´d asked. What a champion. He loves to talk. Sometimes our lessons are pretty long with him because he loves talking, but it´s crazy how much love you develop for these people that you teach. You get so connected to them, and when they don´t do what you ask, it makes you sad. Which I´m pretty sure is exactly how Heavenly Father feels about each and every one of us. It´s such an amazing experience.

Ana Florín. My Spanish Grandmother. Ana is one of the only members here in La Línea that we´ve been able to find from the branch that existed about twenty years ago. She is the nicest lady. Every time that we pass by her house she gives us some nice, but always very healthy little Spanish treat so that we don´t ¨coger peso¨ (gain weight). We take her the Sacrament every week. It gives it a different meaning to be able to take it to someone who hasn´t been able to get the sacrament since the branch was here. It´s a very cool experience.

Denise. She is our Gibraltarian investigator. She take us out to eat every Friday morning. Last time we went out to eat, she took us to a pizza place. I´d never been there before, but I saw on the menu a calzone that sounded fantastic. I ordered it and when they brought it out. It was MASSIVE. I had never seen anything like it. I think it was supposed to be split between multiple people. Anyway, Denise looked at me and told me I could not eat it, which naturally meant there was no other choice but TO eat it. About a half hour later, I was left with an empty plate and a very nasty stomach ache.

But wow. The time goes by so fast. We have a zone conference in Sevilla this week, and it feels like we were just having one. The time really does fly. There are days where I feel like I just got here. Some days where I can´t believe I´ve been gone for so long. I love being a missionary. I really do. It is by far the best thing that I have ever done in my life. It´s hard sometimes, but we get to see a lot of miracles here. We have to be working hard, and being obedient enough to merit a miracle, but when they do come, they are amazing. 

I love you all so much. Thank you so much for all that you do for me.. I miss you all a lot and pray for you. 

It´s a great day to be a missionary!

Elder Weenig

Gibraltar with Elder England (companion from last transfer)

English Fish and Chips

On top of the Rock of Gibraltar.  My new companion, Elder Holman, is on the left.

More monkeys.

Looking down from the Rock of Gibraltar.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Let´s Get Down to Business...

What a week.  We´ve been working hard and I love it. My new companion is named Elder Holman. He is very, very enthusiastic about working. He´s great. He´s from Salt Lake City, Utah. He speaks Spanish well. We met for the first time on Tuesday, in the Málaga chapel. Our mission, when new missionaries come in, has what´s called a sorting ceremony, or a moment when the new missionary is called up, and the trainer is announced for that missionary and we point out where our area is on the map. So, I was sitting up on the stand, wondering which of the new missionaries would be my companion, and slowly but surely watched all of the other trainers go up and receive their companions. Eventually, I was left up on the stand all by myself. I couldn't see the remaining missionary because there was a white board in the way. Anyway, President calls his name, and then I get called up. It´s funny because that was the exact same thing that happened when I first met my trainer, getting called up last. It was a really fun experience.

Anyway, training. is a cool experience. It´s definitely a new one. I´m still getting used to it, but I really, really enjoy it. We´re seeing some amazing miracles. For example, last Wednesday, we were working and we decided to go and see how a lady was doing with whom we´d left a Book of Mormon. She hadn´t been home the last few times that we had passed by her house. AMAZING. We walk into her house, and we sit down. She looks up at us and says that she has been reading the Book of Mormon. She told us that if she felt that it was the truth, not only would she be baptized, but she would go and tell her pastor at her church that it was the word of God, She would tell EVERYONE that it was the word of God. The spirit was so strong in that lesson. She started to get teary eyed and then committed to baptism. She has so much faith in God. It´s admirable. 

Pepe. Pepe is amazing. Enough said. He has so much faith. He´s progressing so well. Every time we go and visit him, he tells us how much he wants to get baptized in our church. It´s such a sacrifice for him to come to church, because it´s about an hour away. But he comes. He has come twice. He is amazing. Every time we go and visit him, we come out feeling so much better than we did going in. I don´t think I ever told you how we found him. We were working out on the streets one day, and we saw a man walking down the street. We decided to stop him, and talk with him, and he accepted for us to come to his house. He gave us the number on the house, and told us that we could come by anytime. When we got to the number on the street, we found out that it was an apartment building with a lot of doors, and he hadn´t given us a floor number. We thought of just giving up, and not bothering to look for him, but we decided to go and ask around. We knocked the first door, who told us there was a Pepe that lived on the third floor. We went there, and they told us there was a Pepe that lived on the fifth floor. The fifth floor Pepe wasn´t our guy  either, but he told us that he thought on the bottom floor there was a Pepe. We decided to just knock it on our way out, and Pepe was there! He let us in, and we started to teach him. What a guy. What a miracle. I am so grateful everyday that we have had the opportunity to meet with him. 

We just got back from Gibraltar where the members there gave us fondue and melted cheese meat things. I think it has a fancy name, but I can´t remember what it is. It was a great experience. I love it out here. I love being a missionary. Sometimes things can be very hard, but when God calls, he also qualifies.  Ah. I love it here. It´s finally starting to warm up. Sorry it took me so long to get pictures to you. But hey, monkeys. They aren´t the best investigators, but they are pretty fantastic. 

It´s a great day to be a missionary :)

Elder Weenig

  A very unreceptive investigator

In front of the Pillars of Gibraltar. Also known as the Pillars of  Hercules. These were known as the end of the known world. Gibraltar was given to the British as a result of the War of Spanish Succession in a part of the Treaty of  Utretch. 

Sorting ceremony.  My new companion, Elder Holman (Salt Lake City)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Here We Go!

Wow. This last week has been very, very interesting. It´s been a week full of surprises and a lot of cool miracles.

So just to start off, we have started to see progress in our area. We started up a family night where less active members and investigators can come that live in Gibraltar, because they would have to cross the border and take a long bus ride to Algeciras to come to church. Gibraltar´s like a really big treasure hunt. Basically we´re trying to find a lot of old members and investigators that used to exist and we´re working off a lot of clues and different suggestions that people who either used to know the church in Gibraltar or used to go there, and a lot of the time, we end up on wild goose chases, but then there are some really cool little miracles. For example, Denise. She is a fifty year old Gibraltarian woman who is just amazing. She takes us out to lunch once a week. We searched for her building for days, trying to ask the people that lived around her, and asking if they knew where Georgeston house was. It turned out that Georgeston house didn´t exist, it was George Don house that we were looking for. (The importance of having good records among missionaries was highlighted at this moment. As well as the importance of having legible handwriting). Anyway, we found her, and she is an investigator who almost got baptized fifteen years ago when the church was in Gibraltar. We´ve started teaching her again, and she is coming to the family night. She´s great. 

Hey fun fact of the day, did you know that Gibraltar was one of the first missions ever opened up? Apparently, because the people speak English, it was opened up around the same time as England and other English speaking countries in Europe. Cool right? It´s been shut down periodically over the years due to lack of members, members moving out of Gib and insufficient organization (apparently two branches existed here at the same time without one having knowledge of the other). But now, we have a plan to get a branch started up here permanently so that we can finally have a branch here. My goal is by the time I´m forty that someone will receive their call to the Gibraltar mission. But that´s a future step. Right now we have to concentrate on finding investigators and getting a church here.

Also, speaking of Gibraltar, we´ve had lots of fish and chips this week. We had a senior couple come down from Fuengirola to visit Gibraltar and they took us out to go and eat fish and chips. The next day, Denise also took us to the same restaurant to eat fish and chips again. It was pretty funny because we had the same waitress. I wasn´t a  big fish fan before coming to  Gibraltar, but the way they fix fish and chips is fantastic. It´s usually cod, and if you put a lot of salt on it, it makes it taste even better.

Another surprise came on Friday. We´d just come back from Gibraltar and we´re eating lunch in our flat when President called. Our reception´s really bad in our apartment, so I had to ask him to repeat it three times, but I am training! I´m really excited. Elder England will be going to Alicante, (the promised land), He´s so, so lucky. I miss Alicante a lot, It´s a fantastic city.  Today I will travel to Fuengirola to be trained on how to be a trainer and then to get my new companion. I´m a little bit nervous. We just opened this area. I was praying about it because I felt really worried and under qualified on how we were going to have success when a scripture came to my mind, D&C 6:36 ¨Look to me in every thought, doubt not, fear not¨ And it´s true. God asked us to do a lot of things. A lot of which may seem impossible or extremely difficult. But when he calls us, he also qualifies us to be able to do the things that he wants us to. I´ve never felt such a feeling of calmness and just good feeling, that everything would be okay, and that so long as we´re doing the best that we can and we´re living the way the Lord wants us to live, He will bless us.

As far as investigators go, Pepe! He is absolutely awesome. I´m shocked by how much he has accepted in such little time. He has quit smoking and has committed to come to church. I´m so proud of him. He´s older, and he said that he felt something that he´d never felt before in our church. (He´s the one whose son took us to church in his car).  That feeling made him want to get baptized. He is a miracle. We´re working with him and hoping that he can get baptized.

So wow. The week´s been great. This experience in La Linea and Gibraltar has been difficult. I have changed a lot since I left Alicante, and it´s made me grow a lot, and for that I´m very grateful. I have been able to see and appreciate the tiny miracles that we receive. It´s made me very, very grateful. I have come to love it here. It was not a very easy start here, but I have had a really hardworking companion, and we have been able to see a lot of progress here in La Linea and Gibraltar. I love being a missionary. It´s a fantastic experience. We get to grow a lot. 

It´s a great day to be a missionary!

Elder Weenig